MAVEN orbit and primary science mission
MAVEN launched on November 18, 2013, and is on track to arrive at Mars on September 21, 2014. The first fuel burn will insert the spacecraft into a capture orbit with a period of 35 hours and an altitude of approximately 590 kilometers. Shortly after Mars orbit insertion, a second fuel burn will place the spacecraft into its 4.5-hour period requirement for acquiring data. Three smaller burns will reduce the periapsis altitude of the spacecraft to approximately 150 kilometers, placing MAVEN within the required corridor and a 75° inclination elliptical science mapping orbit.
MAVEN’s elliptical orbit (~6,000 km apoapsis; 150 km periapsis) will provide coverage of all altitudes. Five “deep-dip” campaigns (5 days each), bring the periapsis down to near 125 km. The orbit precesses in both latitude and local solar time and the one-Earth-year primary mission allows thorough coverage of the entire upper atmosphere of Mars.
[VIDEO] MAVEN orbit animation (Courtesy Chris Waters/Lockheed Martin)